The term ‘popcorn flick’ gets used too often as an excuse for movies that don’t try.
“Oh, it’s just a summer popcorn flick. Why do you have to complain about plotholes and stupid characters and the movie being big and dumb?”
(Not to harp on it, but I’ve seen people try to defend the new Star Trek movie with this argument, which, as I’ve said before, is exactly why I won’t watch it. Star Trek is not an action franchise.)
It’s unacceptable because there are plenty of blockbuster movies that are smart enough and don’t condescend to the audience. In a world with Terminator 2, The Matrix, the Bourne series, the Avengers and the other Marvel movies, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Raiders of the Lost Ark, [fill in your own favorite here] there’s no excuse for action blockbusters being too dumb, too lazy, or too loud and grating. There is a minimum level of artistry and competence we can demand of a summer blockbuster.
Or a movie can just go so far into the ridiculous, over-the-top territory that it out-distances any kind of critique. The purest work like this is the Crank movies, which I unabashedly love and consider brilliant in their own way.
Fast and Furious 6 approaches that mark, with action pieces that involve a tank driving down a Spanish freeway or a finale that involves the world’s longest runway, but it also has just enough restraint and gives just the right amount of attention to character interaction and storyline that, while the movie is big and dumb, it’s smart enough that it’s enjoyable without warranting the term “guilty pleasure.”
Because Fast and Furious 6 is, for all the jokes and groans the idea of a fifth sequel to “Point Break with cars instead of surfing” warrants, exactly what it needs to be to justify its existence. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s exciting, and it has no delusions about reaching the level of greatness like T2 or The Dark Knight.
I have nothing to say about how the movie fits in to the series, because honestly I’ve only now seen half of them. I saw the first one, I enjoy it as a solid romp. I saw the fourth one, which wasn’t bad but wasn’t good or even all that memorable. And now I’ve seen the sixth, which unlike 1 and 4 is so wacky it’s hard to believe it’s in the same franchise. I guess the fifth one is when things just got really silly and the moviemakers said “fuck physics.”
I’m interested in seeing Fast 5 now, just to see if it’s as ridiculously fun as this one.
So yeah. This was exactly what I wanted it to be. Would I prefer more intelligent fare? Yes, but I can get that elsewhere. It is nice to have ridiculous, ‘not smart but neither is it dumb’ entertainment now and then.